You have to wade through the usual backstory of why golf real estate failed when the economy crashed, but Nick Madigan's New York Times story does reach a somewhat positive point by noting the improvement at some facilities devoted to golf real estate.
While the story does not address the specifics at the places succeeding as much as I'd hoped, it's the facilties focusing on service and re-imagining themselves as family-driven places that Madigan says are succeeding. Unfortunately, exclusivity is also part of the success recipe.
The Boca West Country Club’s heavy investment in its facilities, Ms. Tanzer said, “is a perfect example of adapting” to the changing economics of golf. “They’re spending a fortune on making the place family-friendly,” she said. “It’s a home run.”
At Boca West, where it costs new members $70,000 to sign up, Jay DiPietro, the club’s 78-year-old president and general manager, suggested that the troubles besetting some of his competitors could be blamed on poor management and on their focus on “the business of selling houses.” But he operates on a different principle, he said.
“We’re in the people-pleasing business,” he said. “These people paid a lot to be here.”
In any case, Mr. DiPietro said, the golf industry was vastly over-supplied with courses. “It was just waiting for a recession to knock the hell out of it,” he said. “The recession separated the boys from the men.”
Oliver K. Hedge, who appraises golf course properties for the real estate brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield, said the golf industry had “made great strides” in shaking off underperforming courses in the last few years.
“A lot of clubs that have closed really should have closed,” Mr. Hedge said. “Florida is a good microcosm of the nation because we’re so dense with golf courses.”
Many of the closures, he said, have involved public and semi-private courses, the latter a reference to clubs that have an active membership program but that let non-members play for a fee.